You don’t have to be a diehard basketball fan to understand why so much of the country remains deep in mourning. Yesterday, nine souls – including retired NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna – perished in a fiery helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. The devastating turn of events left fans around the world reeling from the loss.
Bryant had a complicated past, but he was also a husband, son, father and hero to millions – on and off the court. Gianna had dreams of following in her father’s footsteps, and their loving bond was on full display through many of the videos and photos shared across social media platforms in the hours after the incident.
During times of mass mourning, it’s easy to get swept away in a sea of sadness. Grief is a complex process, and it can be all-encompassing. It is also a completely normal response to lives seemingly cut short too soon.
But I think it is equally important during times of loss to focus on gratitude. Tragedy provides an opportunity to reflect on our lives and the people in them.
Through much of yesterday and today, people have continuously reminded one another of the fragility of life. This reminder of the ways we are all interconnected may offer – even if briefly – an opportunity for gratitude. Tell the people in your life how thankful you are to have them. Take time to express inner gratitude to yourself. Let go of grievances that may not seem so significant right now. Gratitude in times of sorrow may give you the impetus to work on the most meaningful relationships in your life.
Immerse yourself in gratitude that an extraordinary talent like Kobe Bryant lives on through the fans that were inspired by him, the kids who found in him the hero they needed to persevere and the countless other players encouraged and buoyed by his dedication to a family and game he loved.
The transformation between life and death is a road not easily paved with acceptance or understanding. We are taught to mourn this transition, yet I find that it reminds me of the saying: “The butterfly is nature’s way of reminding us that there is hope in grief. When the caterpillar is no more, the butterfly exists in ultimate freedom and beauty.”
Find gratitude in the midst of your mourning. Reflect on what your heroes mean to you as well as the people in your daily life. Remember the positive impact you’ve had on others and that which they’ve had on you, even if they are no longer here. Be grateful for this shared human experience as it is what allows us to live on through our connections to one another.